Yueh Hai Ching Temple


Yueh Hai Ching Temple is one of the oldest Taoist temples in Singapore.1 It was established in 1826 by the Teochew community and is also known as Wak Hai Cheng Bio in the Teochew dialect.2 The present building at 30B Philip Street was built in the 1850s and gazetted as a national monument on 28 June 1996.3 The temple received an imperial signboard from Emperor Guang Xu of the Qing dynasty in 1907, an honour accorded to only two temples in Singapore, the other being Thian Hock Keng.4

History
The temple is believed to have been started in 1826 by Teochew settlers from Guangzhou, China, who built a simple wood-and-attap shrine on Philip Street, which was then located near the sea. It was a place where newly arrived Chinese immigrants, including sailors, fishermen and traders, travelling between China and Singapore, came to offer thanks for their safe sea voyages.5 This is reflected in the temple’s name, which means “Temple of the Calm Sea”.6


The present temple was built in the mid-1850s. In 1895, a major renovation of the temple was undertaken by the owner, Ngee Ann Kongsi, an association formed by a group of Teochews to look after the interests of the Teochew community.7 By the late 19th century, the Teochews had become the second-largest Chinese dialect group in Singapore after the Hokkiens, and the temple played an important part in the Teochew people’s daily lives as a community meeting place and place of worship.8

In 1907, the temple was honoured with an imperial signboard bearing its name from the Qing Emperor Guang Xu, thereby uplifting its status.9 The temple was gazetted as a national monument in 1996 and thereafter underwent repair and restoration work.10

Description
The temple is built in a traditional Chinese architectural style. Covering a total area of 695 sq m, it is situated within a walled compound fronted by a main entrance gate leading to a spacious forecourt.11 The temple consists of two separate shrines, each with its own entrance. One block houses the shrine of Tian Hou, the Mother of Heavenly Sages, while the other block is home to the shrine of Xuan Tian Shang Di, the Heavenly Emperor.12


The two blocks differ in ornamentation and elevation. The ornament on the roof ridge of the Heavenly Emperor’s shrine features two dragons flanking a blazing pearl, while the shrine of the Heavenly Mother features dragons guarding a miniature pagoda.13 The elaborately constructed roof with mythical animal and bird motifs, as well as the richly carved beam-and-bracket roof support system, gives the temple its stunning appearance.14 Three-dimensional scenes of Chinese opera can be seen in relief work done on the interior walls of the temple.15



Author
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja




References
1. Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, p. 346. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM -[HIS]); Uma Devi, G., et al. (2002). Singapore’s 100 historic places. Singapore: Archipelago Press; National Heritage Board, p. 73. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN -[HIS])
2. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board; Landmark Books, p. 22. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 417. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW -[TRA])
3. Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: through places of historical interest. Singapore: Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, p. 346. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM -[HIS]); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
4. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
5. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board; Landmark Books, p. 22. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
6. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, p. 346. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM -[HIS])
7. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board; Landmark Books, pp. 22–23. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
8. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, p. 346. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM -[HIS])
9. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, p. 346. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM -[HIS])
10. National Heritage Board. (2015, July 2). Yueh Hai Ching Temple. Retrieved 2016, April 29 from National Heritage Board website: http://www.nhb.gov.sg/places/sites-and-monuments/national-monuments/yueh-hai-ching-temple
11. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
12. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board; Landmark Books, p. 22. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE)
13. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
14. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 417. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW -[TRA]); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
15. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board; Landmark Books, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Temples, Taoist--Singapore
Ethnic Communities
Arts>>Architecture>>Religious buildings
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Religious Buildings
Heritage and Culture
Religious buildings
Historic buildings--Singapore
People and communities>>Social groups and communities

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